Leading farmers’ organisations and some farm ministers have criticised European Commission proposals for a greener agricultural policy, fearing new bureaucratic hurdles and a decline in yields at a time of rising global food demand, EurActiv reports. But for organic farmers, the Commission’s proposed changes to the Common Agricultural Policy are positive steps toward more sustainable farming practices.
Agricultural Commissioner Dacian Ciolos has defended plans that include encouraging farmers to rotate crops, set aside permanent pasture and create woodlands or buffer zones. The proposals are part of proposed changes to the 54 billion annual farm support programme that consumes some 40 % of EU spending. The draft ‘greening’ rules that would take effect in 2014 reflect what organic farmers already do. “We are really very happy that this is really clearly recognised,” said Antje Kölling, policy coordinator for IFOAM.
Since revealing the CAP proposals in October, Mr Ciolos has been on the defensive against criticism that the greening measures would create more paperwork and even hurt production. “A major objective of the reform is to provide the tools to provide both growth in agriculture and sustainability,” Mr Ciolos said. “If not, it is difficult to justify the CAP as a public policy.” IFOAM and other groups, however, say more could be done to improve sustainability but fear the current proposals will be weakened in the coming months in the European Parliament and by national leaders.